Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

This is a favourite in India and nothing like the Butter Chicken you get in Australia or New Zealand.  It is a rich and flavoursome dish with very little butter. It’s made up of two parts – first, the marinading and cooking of the chicken; secondly, the preparation of the sauce.



4 Chicken thighs, boned (I prefer the texture of thighs to breast – holds the flavour and texture better in a curry)
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 dried chilli
1 cm knob of ginger
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Pinch of rock salt
2 tbls unsweetened yoghurt – greek is the best, as it’s much firmer than the stuff I used
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
Juice from half a lemon


Grind up some ginger, garlic, rock salt & chilli.


Roast some cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan until they smoke – this will give the spices a far richer flavour


Grind the whole lot together into a paste


Some people like to slash their chicken, but I prefer to prick it all over with a fork – this helps the marinade to really get deep inside the chicken


Squeeze some lemon juice to start the marinading process – this tenderises the chicken and makes it much easier for the marinade to permeate the meat


Add in the paste made earlier and some coriander powder and paprika


Add in a couple of tablespoons of fresh yoghurt and mix the whole lot together. Leave to marinade for at least 6 hours (I made this batch before going to work – means it’s ready for dinner)


Some recipes call for the marinade to have some red food colouring. DON’T! Chuck it away!


Time to cook our chicken. If, like me, you don’t have a tandoor oven, then BBQ is your next best option.


While chicken is cooking, drink beer. Some people feel this is optional, it is not.


Mmmmm, Chicken! If you stopped here, you’ve got a great starter dish – really tender and full of flavour.  But, to make Murgh Makhani, you need to make a sauce to put the chicken in.


For the sauce:


One small onion
4 tbls butter
6 green cardamom pods, shells discarded (important to discard the shells as they don’t whizz too well when you blend)
2 Large tomatoes (or 4 medium ones)
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp chilli powder (or sweet paprika if you want a milder flavour)
1 tsp crushed garlic
A little cream – the more you put in, the milder the flavour – I tend to put in about 1/4 cup because the cardamom flavour is quite strong. You can also put in a drizzle of honey to balance the whole dish out.
Spring onions to taste – two decent ones is good enough
1 bottle (or more) or beer.
Handful of cashews or almond slivers to garnish

Fry onions, garlic, cardamon, garam masala; chilli powder in the butter


Add in the tomatoes and a little water


Reduce the mixture down and leave to cool a little.


Pour the mixture into a blender and blend to a smooth paste.  You can sieve the mixture, if you wish, but I prefer the thickness of the mix.


Pour back in to the pan on a medium heat and add in the cream


Add the chicken and warm through.  Top with some garnish like coriander leaves or spring onions.

Murgh Makhani

Serve and enjoy!


20 responses to “Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

    • We do have a recipe of fish coeokd in banana leaves. You can go through the website for the same and your request for the Goa style pomfret has been noted down and shall be worked on soon.Happy Cooking!sanjeevkapoorkhazana

    • About 500 grams – budget for 1 thigh per person if this is being used as one of a few dishes – or 2 per person, if used as the main dish – also, depends on appetites :)

    • I tend to use Cayenne peppers – red or green – I’m not overly family with ancho’s taste, but from what I’ve read they’re a little sweet and quite mild – I’d keep the seeds in to fire up the heat a bit :)

  1. What’s cream like? I am from the US and cant tell what cream is, is that like sour cream, or something else? Awesome blog by the way

    • I had to google an answer, because I actually have no idea what you call it in the US! Don’t use sour cream – that’ll make it too sour – cream is used to give a silkier taste and texture. Wikipedia is telling me that you would call it Heavy Cream (or Light Cream, if you are watching your figure, but will have less smoothness than heavy cream). Sorry I couldn’t be more help! I know in the US cream is usually reserved for coffees, whilst overseas, milk does the trick just fine for my coffee :) Good luck!

  2. Hi,

    I made your Tahari 2 times and it’s simple and delicious! Thank you.

    Tonight I’m trying your Murgh Makhani but I have a question: what is the ingredient between the onion and the butter in the “For the sauce” picture?

    All the best,


    • Sorry for the late reply! Are you talking about ‘garam masala’? It’s a traditional Indian mixed spice – made up of a variety of other whole spices, blended together. Should be easy to find at any supermarket – definitely at an Indian grocer’s :)

      Good luck!

      Sent from my iPad

    • I personally don’t like the taste of methi – I never have – but it’s really traditional – if you use it, it’ll give you that aniseed flavour that’s typical of Punjabi cuisine – but if you leave it out, it’s still awesome :)

  3. Hello! I got here after I went looking for a recipe for butter chicken, on a whim, on Reddit. Liking the look of the ingredients and method, I went ahead and cooked it tonight for myself and my partner. Boy, oh, boy! So much flavour, so much fragrance, yet pleasantly not as oily as some of the better takeaways I’ve had in my time.

    Deviations: I used a whole chicken, retrieving the breast, thighs and drumsticks from the carcass and boiling the body for stock (which I added to the sauce during the blending stage).

    Fantastic recipe, and I’ll be trawling this website again soon for more deliciousness. Keep it up.

  4. Pingback: The Tour of Asia Chef | Thirty Day Adventure·

  5. Update: I’ve now made this recipe numerous times this year for dinner parties and every time it has been the feel good hit of the summer.

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